NAGA CITY—A compilation of writings on the late Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo provides a peek of the different facets of the public servant’s life as told by people who knew him up close.
Launched on Dec. 8 at Ateneo de Naga University, the 104-page “Jesse Robredo Proud Nagueño Memories,” published by Anvil Publishing, pays tribute to the most beloved son of Naga City, who died in a plane crash in August. It was coedited by Prof. Paz Verdades Santos and her husband, Judge Soliman Santos Jr.
The book draws a “personal picture of what Jess was to the people of Naga City, whom he was proud of, whom he served well, whom he loved, and who loved him in return,” Professor Santos said. It is a “festschrift,” or a volume of writings by various people collected in honor of somebody, which include essays, poems and other literary forms about Robredo, she added.
Originally, she said she was compiling a book titled “The Naga We Know” with a piece on Jesse Robredo, but then the official died unexpectedly in the plane crash, followed by an outpouring of grief over his loss.
“When I proposed the book on Jesse Robredo to Anvil Publishing, Karina Bolasco (publisher) asked instead for a virtual scrapbook to remember him by. She said she also wanted it before the end of September,” Professor Santos said.
Despite their busy schedule, she said she and her husband took on Anvil’s challenge with lawyer Leni Robredo’s approval.
Falling into place
“After all, it’s what we do as an avocation, write, edit, write. We are also based in Naga, have done some work with Jess, and admired his achievement,” she said during the launch.
She said the situation just fell in place during the Peñafrancia fiesta when she talked with several people who knew Jesse Robredo, especially his classmates in Ateneo de Naga High School Batch ’74 who were having a reunion.
Professor Santos interviewed Robredo’s brother Butch, Leni and her daughters, and his friends who included Jun Lavadia, Francis Soler, Joel Cadiz, Noemi Bien, Noemi Flor Halili and Salve Cadag.
The book also contains poems of Vic Nierva and France Clavecillas and testimonials from Boy Carpio, Caloy Agawa, Luis Ferrer, Mac Pavia, Butch Priela, Roy Bautista, Frank Peñones and Abet Perfecto.
“So we get a more rounded or holistic view from different perspectives and angles. For example, you have anecdotes of diligent childhood, brotherly protectiveness, persistent courtship, a work ethic, family and work balance, and of his famous frugality, even in providing simple snacks at important meetings,” Professor Santos said.
She quoted Robredo on his style of governance: “Our experience, and that of many others, have shown that if we cannot do it at the national level, we can begin at the local level. Collectively, successful local governments, driven by constituencies who are well-informed, constructively engaged, and willing to share the burden of community building, can build our country.”
That explains the rationale and concept of the book and provides a special perspective, special to Robredo himself, “the Nagueño perspective from below—of a good local leader who has been given to the larger nation,” Professor Santos said.